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Acoustic vs. Electric

freightdawg 16 Oct 03 - 07:57 PM
Clinton Hammond 16 Oct 03 - 08:07 PM
akenaton 16 Oct 03 - 08:08 PM
Blowzabella 16 Oct 03 - 08:10 PM
jimmyt 16 Oct 03 - 08:10 PM
jimmyt 16 Oct 03 - 08:15 PM
Amos 16 Oct 03 - 08:18 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 16 Oct 03 - 09:43 PM
Amos 16 Oct 03 - 10:07 PM
freightdawg 16 Oct 03 - 11:19 PM
NicoleC 17 Oct 03 - 01:34 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 17 Oct 03 - 01:50 AM
mooman 17 Oct 03 - 10:51 AM
Pied Piper 17 Oct 03 - 10:51 AM
Mark Clark 17 Oct 03 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Oct 03 - 11:37 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Oct 03 - 12:48 PM
Leadfingers 17 Oct 03 - 12:55 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 01:09 PM
C-flat 17 Oct 03 - 01:14 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 01:49 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 02:10 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM
Leadfingers 17 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 03:36 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 03:39 PM
Mark Clark 17 Oct 03 - 04:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Oct 03 - 04:11 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Oct 03 - 04:58 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 05:15 PM
NicoleC 17 Oct 03 - 05:23 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Oct 03 - 05:51 PM
Joybell 17 Oct 03 - 06:18 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 06:38 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 06:50 PM
Mark Clark 17 Oct 03 - 07:00 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 07:43 PM
Leadfingers 17 Oct 03 - 11:16 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Oct 03 - 06:29 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 18 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM
Clinton Hammond 18 Oct 03 - 01:53 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Oct 03 - 02:07 PM
GUEST 18 Oct 03 - 03:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Oct 03 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Santa 19 Oct 03 - 10:37 AM
mack/misophist 19 Oct 03 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 19 Oct 03 - 04:33 PM
mack/misophist 20 Oct 03 - 12:16 AM
dermod in salisbury 20 Oct 03 - 04:49 AM
GUEST 20 Oct 03 - 07:49 AM
Willie-O 20 Oct 03 - 09:23 AM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Oct 03 - 09:52 AM
Willie-O 20 Oct 03 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 20 Oct 03 - 11:51 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Oct 03 - 01:00 PM
NicoleC 20 Oct 03 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Whistle Stop 20 Oct 03 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 20 Oct 03 - 02:59 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Oct 03 - 03:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Oct 03 - 03:35 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Oct 03 - 04:29 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 20 Oct 03 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 20 Oct 03 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 20 Oct 03 - 04:59 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Oct 03 - 05:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Oct 03 - 05:15 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Oct 03 - 05:26 PM
GUEST,Grab 20 Oct 03 - 06:24 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 20 Oct 03 - 06:53 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 20 Oct 03 - 07:23 PM
NicoleC 20 Oct 03 - 11:24 PM
kitchen piper 21 Oct 03 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,Davetnova 21 Oct 03 - 09:03 AM
kitchen piper 21 Oct 03 - 09:34 AM
GUEST,Davetnova 21 Oct 03 - 09:53 AM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Oct 03 - 10:08 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 21 Oct 03 - 10:14 AM
Mark Clark 21 Oct 03 - 11:33 AM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Oct 03 - 12:24 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 21 Oct 03 - 01:07 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Oct 03 - 01:18 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 21 Oct 03 - 01:30 PM
Mark Clark 21 Oct 03 - 01:58 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 21 Oct 03 - 08:39 PM
NicoleC 21 Oct 03 - 10:34 PM
Nevada 22 Oct 03 - 04:07 AM
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Subject: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 07:57 PM

It seems I may have offended some in another thread, and I did not want to continue with unnecessary thread drift. Therefore, I will defend my stand over here where people can beat up on me with impunity.

My feeling is this: Blues, folk, and eventually country was born not so much as musical genres but as expressions of a culture or sub-culture (is any original musical genre any different???) That is to say no one sat down one day and said, "Hey, I think I'll invent country music!" There has always been an inseparable link between the sound of blues, folk and I would argue, country, and the lyrics that convey the message. Stated another way, there is a reason Pete Seeger sounds better with a banjo and guitar than a piano and basoon.

I may be getting metaphysical here, but to me there is a connection between the pure sound of acoustic instruments and the earthy lyrics that constitute the music we celebrate here. Electric instruments, especially guitars, may have their place, but not in these genres. Their main purpose (imho)is to distort sound waves to create another sound. To my ear this works with the pop/rock of the 60's and early 70's, but it just ruins the soulful work of a haunting fiddle or the driving beat of a guitar/banjo breakdown.

Electric amplification is a necessary evil, but still the best is pure acoustic in a small setting where the instruments are allowed to sing as much and and naturally as the performer.

You may feel free to prod me with your electric picks now.


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:07 PM

Whatever floats yer boat, but I've heard LOTS of really good folkies playing LOTS of very electric instruments..


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: akenaton
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:08 PM

I agree with you freightdawg.   When Im looking fo a version of a song I always go for the accoustic version... And in some cases unaccompanied singing is even better...Ake


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Blowzabella
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:10 PM

I don't think amplification is a necessary evil at all - I don't think it is necessary at all!

I have heard musicians argue that it is necessary 'for balance'. That seemes, to me, to be more of a comment on their musicianship than anything else. Take my (favourite) example - and I own up, that I am biased here. The New Scorpion band is a five piece group of multi-instrumentalists, who perform completely acoustically, including sensitive vocals with complex harmonies, with a range of instruments, from fiddles, whistles, pipes, trombones, bassoons, euphoniums, guitars, drums and portative organ! No false 'balance' required - they do this themselves. They can do this because they are consumate professionals.

No - I don't like amplified music - I know that some venues require it, but then I wouldn't be in those venues. In a quiet venue, where the music is th eobject and not just the wallpaper, i appreciate true musicianship.


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: jimmyt
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:10 PM

Freightdawg, You will get no argument from me! We are a f member oldies folk group performang mostly old stuff ala PPand M and Limelightere, Kingston Trio stuff, and to our sound the best we are is completely nuplugged It is a necessaey evil though that larger venues require more amplification etc   but pure sound is better at least for us! I have a pretty good pickup for my upright bass that keeps as pure a sound as you can get with amplification, but still you can't beat wood and strings!


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: jimmyt
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:15 PM

sorry I should proofread!! four member etc!! jimmyt


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Amos
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:18 PM

All well and good, but notice that as soon as electric instruments were more readily available, many of the best blues men took them up and made incredibly fine blues on them.

The culture and soul of blues was not harmed thereby.

A


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 09:43 PM

I certainly must submit my thoughts
Though never loathe to stir these pots
Electrics do pervade the day
And thoroughly... you'll hear me say

For digital most 'lectrons are
and all recordings near and far
With microphones we adepts may
sing to many, and CDs play

So splitting hairs sends more fur flying
And less is more, acoustic lying
For only 'live' true resonation
Is actually the send sensation

So pleasing few is more authentic
But many more might not resent it
If modern modes of transporations
Do usher in 'plugged' inspirations
ttr


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Amos
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 10:07 PM

[applause]]]]:>)

A


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 11:19 PM

Mr Thomas your lines are witty
and often are a perfect fit;
but I must admit, much to my own pity,
more often than not, I cannot understand it.

Thanks for the lines, I'm busy decoding as we speak. :)

To add insult to injury, beneath this little box I am typing in is an advertisement for an "electric acoustic guitar." ARRGGGH!

Maybe I'll just crawl back under my rock where so many think I belong.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: NicoleC
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:34 AM

There are some who would say that acoustic instruments are tragically un-hip and archaic. Then there are those that think electrification is some sort of abomination.

I suspect that when Og the caveman tried different sizes of logs and sticks to beat together, some thought that he was creating awful noises that weren't the "pure" traditional sound of stick on log.

Electric is not less nor more, it's just different. A true musician will select the appropriate instrument (or lack thereof) and degree of electrification to express her music -- the rest is simply ephemera.

While you may enjoy avoiding electric, remember that those acoustic instruments you are playing haven't remained static in their appearance and sound over the decades and centuries, and are not some sort of fixed media that reproduces the song as it was originally intended.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:50 AM

NicoleC... you are clearly an veritable joy!

freightdawg... I've never understood a single word of it...;^)
ttr


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: mooman
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 10:51 AM

I agree entirely with NicoleC.

I have three good guitars: a custom-necked flattop acoustic, a carved archtop semiacoustic and a custom solid electric. I love all three (though tend to play the first two a lot more than the solid) but would pick "the right tool for the job" either for enjoyment playing at home, gigging or recording.

All my other acoustic instruments (mandolin, octave mandola, etc.) are fitted for amplification (usually with the utterly excellent PUTW #27 to give a plug for another 'Catters fine product! This gives a pretty "true" acoustic sound and I usually use them with a dedicated "acoustic" amp).

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Pied Piper
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 10:51 AM

Blowzabella, try doing a Ceilidh for 50 without PA.
Is it a wonder the "folk" movement disappeared up its own arse.
PP


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:02 AM

This discussion may be more about the listener's ear or perhaps his politics than it is about music or instruments. The fact is, today, it's tough to find any music that isn't electonically enhanced and reproduced in some way. Unless you are literally in your parlor listening to a live rendition on unamplified instruments, you are listening to amplified music.

The imagined acoustical purity of a bluegrass band wouldn't sound like much in an auditorium without microphones and amplifiers. The electronics are needed not so much to amplify the sound—some large auditoriums are acoustically able to transmit and sustain the instruments own sound—but to allow the musicians to balance the sound. The ensemble effect we identify with bluegrass would be very difficult to get right without the ability to balance the volume of each instrument with the whole group and to turn up the volume on the lead instrument. This balancing may be done by the musicians controling their proximity to the microphone (pickup) or by a sound technician on a large board.

Even a single singer/guitarist in a pub or coffee house relies on one or two pickups (microphones) to balance the volume of voice and instrument. An amplified instrument is merely one in which the microphone (pickup) has been incorporated into the instrument itself.

An electric guitar isn't, by itself, a statement on taste or purity, it's just a different instrument capable of things an acoustic instrument can't do. Of course there is also music that is ill suited to the electric guitar but that sounds good on an accoustic one. The great Doc Watson played electric guitars until his audience changed and it became important for him to stay on acoustic instruments. Who would want to hear Herb Ellis on a Martin flattop? For that matter, who would want to hear Mario Escudaro or Carlos Montoya play their music on a Martin flattop? Only the highly refined flemenco guitar is suited to their music.

All this ignores the fact that—unlike the vinyl LPs that still dominate my collection—CD's don't contain any remnent of the acoustic waveform that was the original music. What the CD contains is data. The replay electronics use the data on the CD to mathematically compute a waveform similar to that of the original sound. The sound is clean because data representing noise aren't saved.

I count myself among those who love the sound of acoustic instruments but I also join those who love the sound of electric instruments. They have different purposes but music on one is no less delightful than music on another. After all, it's the performer we're trying to touch and we must allow the performer to touch us in the way he chooses.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:37 AM

Freightdawg

You kind of remind me of that older person, perhaps someone's parent in the other room yelling, "turn that shit down!"

Ever hear an electric pedal steel guitar sound haunting? Go back to that great American folk singer Hank Williams.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:49 AM

I love cheese, but there is something about blue cheese that turns me off. It doesn't mean that I think blue cheese is bad because I know my wife loves it and she obviously has good taste. Neither one of us make fun of the others choice in cheese. I do not try to reason that blue cheese does not belong in the cheese family. She does not try to force me to eat blue cheese. There is plenty of space for all kinds of cheeses in our refrigerator. There are days when I have a hankering for cheddar and other days a nice smokey gouda serves me well. We all have different tastes.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 12:48 PM

True about tastes.

Do you know how many old guys I've met or either jammed with that say and think that it ain't right unless you play it like Bill Monroe did?


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 12:55 PM

My only problem with Electric Instruments is VOLUME but the same applies to amplified acoustic instruments.If the overall sound is
such that it becomes impossible to have a normal conversation in a live music bar the sound is TOO LOUD.Other than that I have no difficulty in listening to ANY good music.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:09 PM

Martin, I agree with you. I've always felt that folk music is a living tradition. Monroe, and others, developed their own style. Imitation can be flattering, but shouldn't the inovation continue? People created the music on whatever instruments they had available. I'm sure that if electricity were readily available hundreds of years ago, troubadors would have had amps and Fender guitars.

I happen to love acoustic music that would be defined as "traditional" and I find myself listening to that type of music most of the time. I like it straight up with as little production as possible. However, I also happen to love many singer-songwriters who add electric instruments that aren't considered "folkie".   Why should I have to choose?    Sorry Freightdawg, I just don't think it is necessary to put everything in such tight boxes.   Like a good buffet table (here I go with another food analogy) I think it is best to have variety and people can pick and choose what they like.   Nothing has to be "the best".

Leadfingers - why have a "normal" conversation in any live music bar? If you are there to hear the music, isn't it rude to have a conversation while it is being played - acoustic or electric???

Ron


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: C-flat
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:14 PM

I agree that, on occassion, amplified instruments can be unneccessarily loud but when you're playing as part of a band you do need to be heard over the sound of the drum kit and whatever else is in your line up.
Some landlords and event organisers don't always realise this and, whilst always willing to oblige where possible, the accoustic sound of a drum kit is the very lowest starting point above which the levels of the other instrumentation and vocals must be set.
If it's still too loud, they've booked the wrong act!

As far as the debate of accoustic over electric, I'm with the "whatever's right for the job" group although I'm always happiest playing my accoustic unplugged. I spent quite a lot of cash trying to acheive that "unplugged" amplified sound and I'm almost there but............


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:49 PM

Love the comments, and I do agree with most, or shall I say the prevailing thread.

I too love electrical guitars when they are in their element: namely the pop/rock that evolved in the 60's and 70's. Believe it or nay, one group I love listening to for their sound and lyrics is the Eagles. I cannot imagine them being purely "unplugged." They might sound really good, but it wouldn't be what hooked me and what has made them recognizable. (However, I would not consider them "country," as do a few of my friends.)

Nor would I try to play Vivaldi on my 12 string. It might sound okay (don't know, never tried), but it would sound, I don't know if this is a musical term or not, just goofy.

That being said, I just appreciate hearing the unadorned acoustics of a guitar or banjo accompanying the voices of real artists, ala Peter Paul and Mary standing around a three (or, more accurately a five) place microphone stand. Yes, the microphones are necessary in some locales, but their purpose is to carry the soundwaves, not to create, distort, or reshape in some way.

To join in the food analogy: green chile is one of my favorite foods. I put them in my eggs, mix them with corn, or just put them flat on a tortilla and melt cheese over them. I would just never put them on top of my vanilla ice cream. Everything has its place.

Thanks again for the input (no pun intended) : )

freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 02:10 PM

Freightdawg - once again, it is all a matter of taste. Based on your notes, it seems that YOUR ears have become accustomed to certain sounds and you are having a tough time with something that appears out of the "norm". Who gets to choose when an electric guitar is in its "element"?   Based on your notes, I am guessing that you grew up with the pop/rock sounds of the 60's and 70's. It is easy to associate those sounds with the electric guitar and anything else sounds foreign.

Innovation and tinkering with "tradition" gave us R&B, western swing, bluegrass, rock and roll and so many other sounds.   Bethanny Yarrow came out with an interesting CD of "folk" songs - songs that most of us would recognize as traditional music, but she geared her music for the electronica crowd.   Granted, many people weaned on "folk" music might not like it, but does that matter?   There is music for all of us out there.

By the way, your Green Chile Ice Cream is not out of the question. Everyone has different tastes, and while you may not sit down and enjoy a bowl, there is someone who will love it.

green chile ice cream


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 02:48 PM

Is this a grand country or what???

me thinks I've seen it all now.

I understand this is all about taste and comfort levels, and I know music changes and evolves.

Maybe this discussion comes down more to definitions than instruments. To me "folk" transcends age, economic, political and geographical lines. At one time I would say "country" did as well. Once something is changed, or added, or deleted, etc., in order to make it appealing to a specific group apart from the larger group it then becomes a sub-culture of the original. I would argue that country has morphed, or been morphed, into something different from its roots. Some would say that's a good thing, I would take the opposite approach. I narrowed my venomous bark (much worse than my bite) against electric instruments because they are probably the most visible (or audible) manifestation of the change. I think folk has avoided this change on a wholesale level as opposed to country simply because of the nature of the beast. It's just a lot easier to carry an acoustic guitar on your back than it is a truck full of amps, mixers, etc.

In my opinion, that is the way it should be. I know others have different opinions, that's why I started the thread. I would also like to know what folks think electricity "adds" to folk that is not there to begin with. As you can probably tell, I think it actually detracts from the lyrics, etc., but I am open to hear what others think.

As of now I remain,

chastened, but not converted,

freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM

Your arguement is somewhat ridiculous if you consider that an accoustic guitar is way too out of the box for "the way it's supposed to be" if folk music was originally sung completely unaccompanied by any instrument.

Wouldn't those singers think your accoustic guitar was unneccessary to what they consider "their" pure sound?


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM

Ron :- It is nicer to SAY 'Are you ready for another drink ?'than to
shout it at the top of your voice. Apart from which, I find that the odd appreciative comment does tend to happen,even when its one of MY gigs.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 03:36 PM

The fiddle, which is a staple of what we consider TRADITIONAL Irish music, really did not come into use until the 18th century in Ireland, and even then it was used by more wealthy musicians - not the average family. As Martin points out, singers have their own feelings about instruments.   I've heard stories about Joe Heaney, the incredible sean nos singer, who supposedly had a very descriptive opinion about guitars when they were brought into sessions.

The point is, traditional music CHANGES. While we will never agree on a definition of folk music, I do feel that locale, circumstance and availability effect the music. That is why we have dozens of variations of the same song - each specific to a time and place. The music was played on whatever instrument happened to be available - the instrument of a solo voice, a harp, a drum, etc.

This doesn't mean we have to personally embrace these sounds, but it should mean that we can understand the changes without dismissing them. I certainly don't like everything I hear. There are many musicians whose music irritates me for various reasons, but I always respect their RIGHT to experiment and find the sound that is heard in THEIR soul.   I can still appreciate what they are doing AND keep my deep love for traditional music.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 03:39 PM

Leadfingers - I always ask for the drink BETWEEN songs, not during!!

Seriously though, I do understand what you mean. I was just having some fun with you. If there are going to be electric instruments, I sort of expect the volume to be high.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 04:03 PM

Freightdawg, Now I see what you're after. Not to worry, this problem can be fixed to your satisfaction. (After all, what else matters?) It will take a little money but… Oh, what the hell.

One approach is to give a bazillion or so dollars to each Republican member of Congress and carefully selected Democratic members and just have them outlaw the use of electric instruments in any sort of music with roots in traditionally acoustic forms. Strict and mandatory pelalties will be imposed for anyone violating this Federal law. For extra insurance, you can give Halliburton the contract to confiscate any electric instruments used in violation of the new law.

Another approach might be to fund a petition drive and a parallel media blitz to have all electric instruments recalled. Again, Halliburton would be awarded the non-competitive contract for confiscation.

Soon you won't have to be annoyed by electric music any more. Any artists that want to use electric instruments creatively can just go away to some country where such degenerate behavior is tolerated.

Good luck.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 04:11 PM

One thing about electrics is they haven't yet developed them to the state where they are really self-contained and portable, and that's where they always lose out compared to acoustic music.

I mean, a penny whistle or a harmonica can slip in a pocket, a fiddle or a guitar or a concertina you can carry anywhere. Take it out of your pocket or out of its case, and you can make music anywhere. Standing on a street corner, sitting in a bar, in a kitchen, on a train, on a boat.

Electric instruments, and there's amplifiers and microphones, and a power supply to worry about. And even with portable amps and batteries it's clumsy compared to being acoustic.

They've got their place and there's good music to be got out of them. And in some settings without some kind of PA no one will be able to hear what's going on. And they enable combinations of instruments that could never occur in the natural world - mountain dulcimer and hurdy-gurdy for example.

But it won't be until the technology comes up with electric instruments that have the flexibility and portability of the acoustic instruments that they'll really feel like folk instruments. And I've no doubt that will come. (In fact someone is likely going to report that it already has in some cases.)


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 04:58 PM

Portable is a matter of opinion, I suppose. I have a single amp that I can plug my electric guitar and four microphones into when my group performs. We don't have separate mixers, speakers speaker stands and all the other periphenalia (sp?) that larger groups have. It takes about ten minutes for me to set up. Because we don't have keyboards or a drummer, or any other instruments to be amplified, we can go anywhere.. even outside if there's an outlet within 100 feet.

As for distortion, somehow I can't quite imagine Jimmi Hendrix on a Martin D28. (Although they probably would burn better..)

Different strokes for different folks

And I love everyday people.

Acoustic or electric.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 05:15 PM

It is stupefying to me how a discussion that I intended to be lighthearted and informative could turn so nasty so quickly. I went back and re-read my comments to see if somehow I could have personally insulted anyone except myself and ... nope.

Mark, I suggest you read Blowzabella's post, for it answers your argument about "balance" perfectly. And please keep politics out of this discussion, I resent your tone.

I appreciate Ron's comments and also McGrath of Harlow. Let me add this to the discussion. When does the medium overpower the message? Once again I return to what draws me to folk music, namely the fact that it encompasses all of the human experience in a way none other can, hence the name "folk" music. The instrumentation is the background for the focus of the event. Most, although not all, folk music centers around the lyrics; be it a love ballad, a protest song, a whimsical ditty or any number of other types. Maybe my eyes are blind and my ears are deaf, but I see electrics becoming the focal point of the music, thus moving what I consider "folk" closer to what I consider "pop." That is not intended to be a put down, I just see it as a shift in genres. A poem is no better or worse than a song, but they are clearly different forms of literature. Likewise a short story and a novel. Both are to be enjoyed as they stand, and not compared/contrasted with each other.

Are there examples out there where the electrics stay in the back and are there to accent the lyrics and not overpower them? If so, stear me to the groups/performers and I would love to listen to them. I do admit to being a traditionalist, so maybe my circle of performers is just too small.

Finally, the comments about the addition of guitars and fiddles to earlier "folk" music is greatly appreciated and is something I had not considered. Thanks Ron - it gives me some ideas to chase down in the library.

humbly,

freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: NicoleC
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 05:23 PM

Hmm. I can think of a lot of folk music that isn't about the vocals, particularly anything designed for people to dance to. I think this conversation is drifting into the unsolvable "what is folk" again. If you think folk is all about ballads, well, I can see your point, but I think the tradition is a lot richer than that.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 05:31 PM

Freightdawg, I'm not sure if the medium EVER overpowers the music intentionally.   I would like to think that in terms of folk music, the message is the "draw".   However, the definition of "what is folk music" comes into play. Would dance music be considered "folk"? A good contra dance band, morris dancers, etc. where there are often no words at all. How about Scottish "mouth" music or Irish lilting?   There are no "lyrics" in the sense that we define "lyrics".

I don't mean to go off on a tangent, but that is what happens when we try to put music into tight definitions.

As to whether the instrumentation drowns out the lyrics I would say that is often the effectiveness of the performer.   Often I find the message is clouded, but that is usually poor production and/or poor execution by the performer.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 05:51 PM

You know what, Freightdawg

I think some of what has developed into the best British folk music is by the Beatles. Yes, the Beatles with electric instruments. Their lyrics and melodies have woven into the fabric of England and America alike. You can call it pop if you like, but 100 years from now as today, children will be singing "Oh Bla De Bla Dah" and "We all live in a Yellow Submarine" as much if not more than "London Bridges falling Down"

Your definition of what is and what isn't "traditional" folk music seems way too narrow.

I don't think the Beatles with all of their amplification ever had anything but an emphasis on the lyrics. Their Lyrics that are being passed down from generation to generation.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 06:18 PM

So long as we are able to chose between the two. Many of our festivals here in Australia suffer from amplified takeover. Venues that are unamplified have to be very well soundproofed (and they rarely are) for the loud music not to bleed through. I personally prefer to listen and to perform in unamplified venues but if the tent next door has loud amplified music you can be sure who will win. Where the music is intended as background - and I personally hate that and won't go there unless I'm paid - it's a different matter.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 06:38 PM

Thank you Nicole, Ron, and GuestMartin: this is what I was hoping for.

First, some humble apologies. Yes, I have been thinking in the most provincial of terms - I have in my mind Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie, PP&M, et. al. and mostly on the yankee side of the pond. Sorry about my ugly Americanism.

Second, yes Ron and Nicole, I would have to include the dance forms you listed as "folk", in the sense that they represent music "by" the people not only "for" the people. My circle keeps expanding.

And GuestMartin, funny you should mention the Beatles, because they were one group who I had in mind when I mentioned the 60's and 70's. Their music is an example of a drift from pop to folk, but it is precisely because of the lyrics and not the lead and often overbearing guitar riffs common in modern pop/rock music. Many Beatles' lyrics work just fine sung accapella.

To pull another name out of the hat, I think Eric Clapton is widely regarded as a virtuoso on the electric guitar. I don't see his lyrics making the jump to folk in the same way as the Beatles' though. Before I shoot myself in the foot, let me say I am not aware of all of Clapton's work. His work is an example of what I would call the medium supporting the message, although his guitar playing is so strong it almost becomes a PART of the message. Eric Clapton's use of the guitar is NOT what I am opposed to. What I am opposed to is what Ron calls poor production/poor performance, where the instrument overpowers the effect of the lyrics. With an electric instrument you are limited only by the amperage of your system or its individual components. At least with acoustic instruments the audience can be saved when strings mercifully break. : )

humbly,

Freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 06:50 PM

Actually Freightdawg, I think I've seem more broken strings with acoustic instruments!   I think performers sometimes try to get too much sound out of an acoustic instrument.

Your definition of "folk" music is not provincal, it is really a definition of "folk revival" music. That is one facet of the music, and because of the commercial success, it is the style that most people think of when you say "folk" music.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 07:00 PM

Freight, Let me publically apologize. Especially since you are a new member and don't have the history many of us have. I definately should have treated you better. I'm sorry.

Nicole put her finger on it (she has a way of doing that) when she observed that this is really a “what is folk” discussion. Those of us who've been here a while have grown tired of that endless, pointless discussion.

Folk music has many definitions but the two most often cited come from the music industry and academia. The term is useful as a marketing buzzword and, for scholars in the dicipline, the academic definition has some meaning. But for musicians—most of the people posting here—music is art and there aren't any rules beyond what pleases the artist. If it pleases listeners, the artist may be rewarded. If listeners aren't pleased, it may still be pleasing to the artist. How are we to make rules governing the creation of art?

I think it makes more sense to discuss the product of art—in this case the performance—than to discuss the tools. We can argue that a particular rendition of Barbara Allen by a heavy metal band lacks the sensitivity of a simpler rendition using lute and a single trained tenor voice but that doesn't mean it's impossible to create a sensitive performance using an electric instrument. You may not want to buy that performance, hell, I may not want to buy it either, but our personal taste doesn't invalidate it as art.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 07:43 PM

Mark,

Most humble apologies most humbly accepted.

Your points are true, and I was never really speaking from the artist's point of view. I am speaking as a consumer and afficionado of music. As a specialist in another field I am aware of the "communication gap" that is more a result of language than intent. The layman speaks in broad categories because he is unaware of the nuances a professional has to work with daily. In musical affairs, I am the rankest of laymen.

But coming at the issue from the layman's point of view, can we mix instruments from different styles or eras and still have the same product? As a wild and maybe illogical example, if we played a piece from Vivaldi with bagpipes, a harmonica, a mandolin and a guitar would it still be considered Baroque? In my mind, although I love folk music passionately, Vivaldi would need to be played on instruments he was familiar with in order for his music to be considered Baroque. Now, it would still be Vivaldi, and it would be artistic, and it might even be entertaining (I'd like to hear it). Where my analogy breaks down is that Baroque also refers to a time period, but I hope in a general way I can communicate what I am feeling. I equate electric guitars with modernism, whereas my idea of folk goes back to the industrial age and earlier. Granted, as GuestMartin has pointed out, folk is ever evolving and changing. As an admited traditionalist, it just seems to me that certain sounds are linked to certain genres. To be sure the lines are in varying shades of grey, but as a traditionalist I value keeping them as distinct as possible. In a round-a-bout way that makes crossover artists more valuable - as those who can blend two or more sounds to create a new one in a way that is distinct from the sum of its parts.

humbly,

Freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:16 PM

What a lot of ' folkies' seem to miss out on (and this is BOTH sides of the Pond) is that traditionally SONGS were sung unaccompamied and
Instruments were only used for Dance Music,except in Church, or in the
more upper class environments.It is only in recent times that some
sort of accompaniment has been considered neccessary for songs.
Bearing this in mind, the use of ANY instrument to accompany a 'Folk
Song' has GOT to be superflous, wether the instrument be 'acoustic' or 'electric.So we are back to definitrions of 'What is Folk',or a hell of a variety of personal tastes, which is where I am!
A lot of 'Traddy' songs do NOT work with accompaniment unless the guy playing the instrumnent is a bit Shit Hot,with a very good ear
for ALL the nuances, or has rehearsed exstensively with the singer.
By the same token a lot of contemporary songs lose a lot of their significance if sung unnaccompanied unless the singer has a rare
talemt for the materiel.
This seems to indicate to me that a song can be done a cappella or with any thing up to a full orchestra and it is entirely subjective
wether this is 'Folk' or not. Hence the 'acoustic/electric'argument
is totally superfluous.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 06:29 AM

I'm with you, Lead.. As soon as you set up a "rule", darned if somebody doesn't go ahead and break it. My favorite version of the Boston Burgler is by Cat Mother and the All-Night Newsboys... a minor folk rock band of the 60's. They breathe new life into the song, the vocal is out in front of the electric guitars, but they really add a lot to it (in my not particularly humble opinion IMNPHO.)

I also enjoyed The Nice (an art-rock band of the 60's)seemlessly blending Bach and Dylan's Country Pie into one piece. Was it classical, Baroque, rock, folk or Chamber music? Or Chamber Pot Music? It's all in the ear of the behearer.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM

I have not heard referrence to "The Nice" for ages... Keith Emerson's 'first' band... classical jazz blues folk fusion... genius! ttr


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 01:53 PM

"To everything turn turn turn
There is a season turn turn turn"

Better to have more options than less, I says...


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 02:07 PM

I think the thing that is central to the idea of "folk music" is that it challenges the notion that making music and singing and dancing is something that is done by a small number of people who are different from the rest of us, who are just there to watch and listen and buy.

There's always a Dylan line to fit anything - "Well, anybody can be like me, obviously..."

So the more the music can be made there and then, using what is to hand, the better. Which is the point I was making in my last post about the importance of things being readily portable.

Doesn't rule out fine musicianship, but there's no gulf between what they are doing and what the rest of us do, and what anyone can learn to do. A good distance maybe, but no gulf.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 03:54 PM

Why do "acoustic clubs" always seemn to have PA?


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 04:35 PM

They generally don't in my part of the world (though we don't use that term)


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 19 Oct 03 - 10:37 AM

When I came back into folk music clubs (last decade) after a good few years away, I was struck by two things.

One, people didn't join in the choruses as they used to. My wife and I felt a little exposed, because we did. Strange, I now think that the club I go to does join in the choruses a lot. Maybe it's to drown my attempts?

Two, there was much more PA. There seemed to be very little true acoustic around. I still think that's true, but then the club I go to is in a pub and pure acoustic wouldn't work. I hate having the incessant buzz of conversation - I'm there to listen to the music. There are a few people who walk in and out of the area, go for drinks etc in the middle of songs. I think all this is partly because of the PA - if they had to be quiet to hear the music than they would. Or there'd be more pressure from the folks who do care.

I don't have any particular position on using electric instruments in a way that supports folk music, that enriches it by presenting a new arrangement of familiar songs. This is basically what has happened in the past with the introduction of the guitar, etc. When the electric instrument is used just to drown the music in noise, or to produce something that has no respect for the "feel" of folk, that's another matter. I accept that it can be a matter of taste, round the edges.

Which gets us back to definitions of what is folk. As a non-singer non-musician, I don't accept that folk music can be defined by participation - I join in the choruses but my son joins in with the band at his heavy metal concerts, and I don't see them as possibilities for acoustic-isation!


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: mack/misophist
Date: 19 Oct 03 - 04:04 PM

Spike Jones was on the stereo last night; all acoustic, naturally. I have to say that the quality of their playing put anything eletric I've ever heard to shame. The great flaw in electric instruments is that it's so easy to hide your mistakes with overlays. There's no way to hide a split reed. Acoustic instruments are less forgiving, but they offer so much more.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 19 Oct 03 - 04:33 PM

Misophist

Quite biased. A missed note is a missed note whether it's accoustic or electric, a string or a reed.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: mack/misophist
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 12:16 AM

To GUEST,Martin Gibson: I disagree. I'll skip my background unless you require it. Every amplifier I've ever heard (instrument pickups and run of the mill PA systems, the exceptions are expensive) has a certain amount of fuzz and distortion engineered into it. They smooth out the subtleties of the instrument and replace them, largely with the sound of the amplifier and the pickup. This, of course, doesn't prevent a splendid musician from playing splendidly but it does hide the delicate tonal shadings produced by acoustic instruments. Here's an example. There's a well known storey, told by classical guitarists, about a man who took lessons from Segovia. One day Segovia stopped the lesson, saying "You trimmed your fingernails this morning, didn't you." He answered "Yes, was that wrong to do?" The reply was "No, but now you need to file them". Try the experiment with a good guitar. It can be heard. I defy you to detect it with an electric guitar.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: dermod in salisbury
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 04:49 AM

It's not only folk music where the acoustic/electric issue arises. When did you last sit in a church and listen to a sermon that wasn't amplified, even in buildings where people have managed to make themselves heard for several centuries. I can't explain this loss of confidence. But I do resent heavy amplification in small venues. A solution to the need for more noise (say, at dances) is more players. Alternatively, what is the matter with more people wanting to listen. A single violin still fills a concert hall if the audience is willing to give it a chance.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 07:49 AM

Aha! The solution to the problem. Instead of louder instruments, better listeners!

What's happened there is that everybody takes music for granted now. You can listen to it anywhere and everywhere if you have a portable stereo; you are subjected to it whether you like it in some places and if you want to hear a live performance you don't have to wait till it comes to you, just jump in the car and drive there. Whereas music in the home was once the privilege of those who could afford to pay a staff of musicians (Like Haydn's orchestra at the Esterhazy court), now you just press a button and you're spoilt for choice.

It still doesn't explain why 500 year old churches suddenly need a PA now.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Willie-O
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 09:23 AM

I'm tempted to snort at this as all angels-on-a-pinhead stuff. Which is basically how I feel about it. What we learn, really, is that no two people have quite the same tastes, or the same influences.

For example, I disagree with the conclusion of Misophist's rather well-reasoned argument that the sound of an acoustic guitar is somehow superior due to subtle tonal shades. This is theoretically true but getting those extra tonal colours is achieved only at the highest level of musicianship. Most casual acoustic guitar players kind of thrash at it. For my money, the best electric guitarists are those who can use the different ratio of power vs subtlety to create a completely controlled and distinctive tone. Such as Clapton, Duane Allman, B.B. King, Mark Knopfler, and the more obscure Randy California (from the 60's band Spirit). I'd sit on broken glass to listen to any of them play in a club, the smaller the room the better! And I'd certainly do the same to hear Segovia, Leo Kottke, Doc Watson or J.P. Cormier. (Yes, I know who's dead in those lists) FTR I play 99% acoustic guitar myself, generally plugged in when performing...unless its unnecessary. And I wish I had more chances to see great acoustic players up close and undigitized...but I get a thrill out of any great musician's performance.

Ultimately, musicianship has everything to do with the player, and the medium is secondary. That's my opinion anyway, which of course is the ultimate arbiter... (joke).

Whether Vivaldi played on spoons, kazoo and melodica belongs in the Baroque section of the music store, or the Assorted Folk bin, is a problem for the CD store manager. Let's hear it for cross-referencing. Categorizing music is about marketing. (Vivaldi didn't make any recordings or use microphones, so by your definition that rules out baroque music as being authentic when recorded). You are correct Freightdawg, it ain't quite the same "product", but how do you square your tastes in a certain style of folk music--which is non-commercial by definition--with all that marketing terminology?   

It ain't the medium it's the mojo...

Regards
Willie-O
(in Canada, a grand country indeed and thanks for the compliment)


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 09:52 AM

"When did you last sit in a church and listen to a sermon that wasn't amplified, even in buildings where people have managed to make themselves heard for several centuries."

Perversely the effect of amplification in such settings is often to make the words a lot less comprehensible. You have sounds coming out of various speakers and bouncing around the hall. The effect can be rather like PA in Railway Stations. They'd often do far better to rely on the natural voice, and speak out. This could be augmented by a microphone, so that people with hearing difficulties could listen on a loop system, but without this being not connected to any speakers.

And the number of times I've heard people using PA in rooms which are easily small enough to do without. The effect is to train singers to use minimal volume, so that they cannot in fact be heard without PA, and this is liable to interfere badly with their ability to produce clear notes at all, because it can be quite difficult to do that when singing very softly. "Sing out" is not just the name of a magazine.

When the volume from the PA is loud, this has the effect of increasing the background noise from others in the room. People tend to feel freer to chatter away, at quite loud volume. Anytime the noise ceases, as when a singer pauses, the voices from the rest of the room boom out.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Willie-O
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 10:15 AM

I dunno McGrath, all the singers I've ever known weren't trained by a PA system, but by other singers. It would be great if everyone sang out--maybe--but everyone doesn't. I've heard some very good singing through a PA system that I wouldn't have heard at all, otherwise, cause the singers didn't project much--but were well worth hearing. And I fully agree with the need for balance as an argument for modest amplification. Sometimes it is necessary so that everyone can be heard.

And (my bias showing here) as the sometime sound tech in a rather small room, it's part of the setup to decide if amplification is appropriate. One rule of thumb is that if alcohol is being served, PA is always appropriate. Nothing more frustrating than amateur performers who are afraid of microphones getting up and blowing their lungs out, in a moderately noisy room, without being comprehended. You can see them making noise up there, but it's not getting across. Shhhh-ing an Oktoberfest is not a solution that works.   

Having said that, I quite agree that those big old echo-ey halls are perfect for using the natural acoustics. On the other hand, the Unitarian church in Ottawa, built in the 60's, is a very nice environment which was designed to be visually and acoustically pleasing with the built-in PA--and has become a favoured venue for folk music concerts because of this.

Best
W-O


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 11:51 AM

Misophist

Your arguement really has very little to do with where the original topic was, which if I recall was if country music was ruined by electric instruments.

To which I say, that's bullshit.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 01:00 PM

Martin - If you re-read the original post, Misophist's comments are very much related.   Unless I'm reading it wrong, I don't think country music was the intended topic. All you have to do is scroll back to the top.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: NicoleC
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 01:59 PM

500 years ago, churches didn't have major highways out the front door, construction sites down the street, planes going overhead, and any number of other elements of noise pollution preventing the audience from hearing. It's wrong, IMO, to blame the acoustic vs. electric (or PA vs. non-PA) decision entirely on "bad" audiences.

Amplification is often critical. Bad amplification sometimes results, particulary in the hands of amateurs in places like churches and small bars. Too loud amplification, a sub-set of bad amplification, also sometimes results, usually due to half deaf musicians and sound engineers (or those that think the entire venue is about THEM) :)


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 02:16 PM

I tend to agree with Willie-O, that it's really a question of good musicianship, not the instruments that are used. As he correctly points out, there are any number of electric guitarists that play with great nuance and subtlety. Unfortunately, so much of the music that we hear in public is played in bars, where there is a lot of noise and little opportunity for the more subtle nuances to come through. It's like trying to carry on a conversation in the middle of a football game; you basically have to shout to be heard, and forget conveying your underlying sentiments with subtle vocal inflections.

I do think that amplification -- of vocals, acoustic instruments, and electric instruments -- can open up some opportunities for more nuanced playing to be heard, in ways that would not be possible without amplification. For instance, if I am playing lead guitar breaks unamplified with a bluegrass band, I have to play as loud as I can just to be heard over the other instruments; even though I'm playing an acoustic guitar that has great potential for subtlety when played solo, that potential is masked by the competition from other instruments. Some subtle amplification can allow the more sensitive side of my playing to shine through.

In a way, preferences for unamplified vs. amplified music are like preferences for stage dramas vs. film. On stage, one has to project, vocally as well as with gestures and facial expressions, in order to be appreciated by those in the back row. When film first came in, stage actors who were trying out the new medium tended to over-act, because they weren't accustomed to the way their stage-based styles would seem excessively emotive on film. Conversely, film actors who try acting on stage need to learn how to project to the back rows, because their subtle expressions just don't carry on stage like they do on film. But both the stage and film have their place, and great art can be created on both. I think the same can be said of amplified music (whether played on instruments originally designed to be amplified, or not) and unamplified music.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 02:59 PM

Yeah, Ron

You are right. I'm thinking of his last post which spawned this one. My apology.

However, I'll take an amplified guitar anytime in any room over one that I can't hear that's not amplified.

I remember in the old days when country singers would stand up and sing with an accoustic guitar and play rhythm guitar with a back-up band and you would never hear it. Why bother? Today's amplified accoustics solve that problem.

PA systems in any size room, run by the right technician always improve sound and mix. but you need the right technician.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 03:10 PM

No problem Martin. I do agree with you. There is nothing wrong with amplified music if it enables the audience to hear the music.

IF the music is amplified, it is usually done so at the request of the artist. It is their vision and prerogative to use amplification. Judge their performance on their performance, not how you wish it would sound if it were acoustic. IF the mix is bad, that is usually the fault of a the mixer, equipment, or the acoustics of the room. You may not like their style and that is your choice.

It is easy to be Monday morning quarterback and say that an artist would have done better with an acoustic guitar as opposed to electric. You could say that if Bob Dylan played tuba, then we wouldn't have to listen to his voice, which irriates some people. Just imagine the words we would have lost. Let the artist make their own choice.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 03:35 PM

No problem with amplified music if it is done right.

Just so long as it is never assumed that you need that stuff if you are to make music.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 04:29 PM

I disagree McGrath. IF the artist feels he or she needs it, then they need it.

You don't need apples to make a pie, but if you are looking to create a certain taste, you better add the ingredient.   It's in the cook's hands - and we get to judge the taste. You may not care for apple pie, but it wouldn't be fair to say that the apples ruined an apple pie and pecan is better.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 04:38 PM

McGrath, photos from a venue described as an "acoustic club" in Bishops Stortford.

Interestingly Colchester's "acoustic club" is putting on Jim Moray next Saturday.

I have never been to anything calling itself an "acoustic club" but I can assure you that there are plenty that use that term in our part of the world.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 04:43 PM

>>I disagree McGrath. IF the artist feels he or she needs it, then >>they need it.


If the performer feels that they need it in an inappropriate situation (eg 99.99% of folk clubs) then I think that "artist" is not the appropriate term.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 04:59 PM

Inappropriate? As in you are offended?

Since when did political correctness and folk music go together?

I think it's worse to not be heard! 99.99% of folk clubs aren't dingy little bars and if it is one, who cares if you and your instrument are heard better? Worse is being told what you can and cannot do.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 05:10 PM

I'm not sure how you do it over in the U.K., but on this side of the Atlantic if the club books an artist they usually have a contract that stipulates what the artist needs or will be bringing. Clubs normally provide the sound system.   I am guessing Peter that YOU are the one who feels it is inappropriate since it doesn't appear that the venue or it's organizers did anything to prevent this supposed "inappropriate" amplification.   I'm guessing that it probably boils down to a matter of taste.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 05:15 PM

It's handy having a fancy word processor - but if people startied feeling that they couldn't possibly write a letter...or a story....or anything else because they only had a pen and paper, that'd be a sad day.

That's what I meant. There really are people who have picked up the notion that singing and making music is not for the likes of them, or at least not unless they can buy a lot of expensive equipment.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 05:26 PM

McGrath, I'm not sure if your word processor analogy is fair. I see your point, but I don't think you are giving the artist enough credit. Electric instruments have a sound all their own and their use of them and amplification is NOT a coverup for lack of skills.

I also don't understand your last sentence.   People who think they can't make music unless they have expensive equipment? Yes, the voice is probably the cheapest instrument available, but the price of a acoustic guitar, banjo or a violin can be just as expensive as electric versions. You aren't giving the individuals the credit for having their own vision to use these tools.   You may not like the sound, and I respect that and agree with some of it, but it really isn't fair to discredit someone for thinking differently than you.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Grab
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 06:24 PM

"Can be as expensive"?!?! You jest, surely? You have to *really* look to find a high-end factory-made electric guitar much over £800, whereas you've hardly even got into the price range for a good factory-made acoustic.

Re Misophist's argument about amplification covering up mistakes, I think he's dead wrong - it's the other way around, particularly as far as left-hand technique goes. String noise, fret squeak, buzzes, brushing an unfretted string, etc are basically imperceptible on an acoustic bcos the strings being played are much louder. If you put it through some gain on an electric though, and every little noise like that comes through the speakers like God's footsteps! Acoustic players can get away with stuff which electric players can't.

I've got no argument if you say that a high-gain electric has no place in playing a slow Irish air. However I'd also stipulate that neither do the bodhran, banjo, melodeon or hurdy-gurdy, and bagpipes certainly aren't a good idea in an enclosed room either! Choose your music and choose your instruments to suit. And for the record, there's some damn good folk-rock outfits out there who *can* make electrics work in traditional tunes, basically bcos they're skillful. It's not the same as a traditional tune played acoustically, but it's no better or worse for that.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 06:53 PM

Check an Elderly catalog Graham, I do not "jest".

You are right Graham, it is "not the same" when an electric instrument plays a traditional tune, but that is the point the artist is trying to make isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 07:23 PM

No, you're right NicoleC... but they did have bells all over the place, chickens and horses with their neighing and cackeling, donkeys and mules...oh my, cover your ears, blacksmiths, and plenty of squeeky wheels (who, me?)... not to mention Fire and Brimstone, and the associated thunder and lightning...;^) People yelled alot back then... so they were intrinsicly more able to sing out loudly... and then there is the small matter of dogs, coyotes, and wolves... which would sometimes make a wee bit of noise by chasing down and eating up small screaming children... Yep! Just as serene as ever... ;^)ttr


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: NicoleC
Date: 20 Oct 03 - 11:24 PM

ttr -

Bells and traffic? On the SABBATH?!


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: kitchen piper
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 07:03 AM

Hello!
We've discussed what is folk music, but maybe it'd be just as appropriate to discuss what is meant by electric. I play bagpipes (obviously by my name, lol!) When I play with my guitarist we try to craft our tunes, which often means that Jonny picks a counter melody. The only way he can be heard is if he uses a little amp. We use it incredibly subtly, turning it off with a pedal when he's strumming.
We do often get asked not to use the amp at clubs (getting disqualified once from a competition because of it). We will always use it and afterwards get any number of people saying wow, that's an amazing guitar, it's so resonant, showing that most of the time people don't even notice it!
My point is really, yes, a lot of the time amplification is a pain on the neck and done badly really gives electric a bad name.
We like to play nice music with counter melody and harmony, but it just can't be done with guitar and bagpipes without some kind of amplification on the part of the guitar.
I ask this in the nicest possible way, what would you do?


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Davetnova
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 09:03 AM

An interesting thread but it seems to have slipped from electric to amplified. This isn't neccesseraly the case. I have a friend who plays Highland bagpipes, she owns and often plays an elecronic set because it allows her to play and practice quietly. Its not only about volume.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: kitchen piper
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 09:34 AM

ooh, yes I have an electronic chanter. I use it on planes and times when I can't play my set. Very good question as to whether or not it should be used to perform with though. Unless I was incapacitated I probably wouldn't!


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Davetnova
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 09:53 AM

Heres a man makes good use of them Jimi McRae


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 10:08 AM

Where did anything I said indicate I was disparaging people for using electrical gear, Ron, or had anything particularly against the sound?


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 10:14 AM

That is why I asked you to explain the last sentence McGrath. The way I interpreted it, you were disparaging people for using electrical gear.   You made it sound that some people would only make music if they boughg expensive equipement and it sounded like a put down.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Mark Clark
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 11:33 AM

I no longer own what is still my favorite electric (actually electrified) guitar. It was an old National flattop I picked up in a pawn shop for $20. Someone had painted the top with ugly gold paint, made a new pick guard from kitchen Formica®' (mother of toilet seat pattern), and filed the frets for faster action but across the sound hole was a vintage DeArmond pickup very like the one in pictures of Brownie McGhee. Brownie was and is one of my heros and the guitar was love at first site. I used play it through my father's tape recorder amplifier. I think I was 18 at the time.

My current electric guitar is a Telecaster copy put together by a local musician from high-quality commercial parts. It has a humbucker at the neck position and I keep it configured for more of a jazz sound than country or Texas blues. I once owned a Martin hollow-body double-cutaway electric guitar with two humbuckers and and Bixby® tremelo tailpiece. I played it through a Fender Twin Reverb amp and fooled around with Merle Travis tunes. I finally sold the outfit and did without any electric guitar for a time. But I still think about that old National from time to time. It may have been funky but it was very cool. And I've often wished I could have met the person who modified it to suit his music. I'll bet he could play.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 12:24 PM

"There really are people who have picked up the notion that singing and making music is not for the likes of them, or at least not unless they can buy a lot of expensive equipment."

"You made it sound that some people would only make music if they boughg expensive equipement and it sounded like a put down."

Can't see how you got that meaning out of it, Ron. I was regretting the way that some people pick up the notion that you can't make music without spending a lot of money and getting expensive equipment, so they get put off the idea. I'm not putting them down for that, there is enough pressure around to make them feel that way, about music and about a lot of other things.

Obviously, as has been pointed out, you can spend as much or more on acoustic instruments as on electric, even allowing for the amplifiers and such. But generally people, especially in the folk context, don't do that until well on in their playing, and they start off with relatively low price instruments. Which can produce pretty good music.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 01:07 PM

Maybe I'm missing something, but I think my interpretation is the same as your explanation.

Regardless of our mis-communication, I do think that I see and agree with your point.   I'm really not sure how many people make a conscious decision when they start playing as to whether they will go acoustic or electric. Everyone I've talked to seem to have a sound in their head that pulls them to their instrument of choice. I don't think people "graduate" to electric as opposed to having a reason to do so. People pick up instruments because they have an interest in doing so, not because it is a pre-ordained path they are supposed to follow.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 01:18 PM

So where is the "put down" you objected to? That's where your interpretation diverges from what I was meaning to say.

I don't think there's much significant disagreement though. Maybe I'm thinking about people at an earlier stage - not "what sort of instrument shall I play?", but rather "is this music thing for me, or would I be better following up some other interest?"


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 01:30 PM

McGrath, perhaps it is something in the translation. Maybe it was your use of the word "expensive" - as if you were saying some people feel they have to spend lots of $$ in order to make music and people who don't spend the dough are doing some other sort of music. Again, it is just my interpretation and it is appears to be somewhat different than what you intended, but perhaps we are just missing the fine shades of grey in each others comments.

Moving forward, I do agree with your last post too - but I think both questions that you pose are valid and maybe connnected. The second question might be asked more frequently by one people who are looking for a career. That may be one of the problems with music - many people look for it as a way to make money and/or gain fame and fortune. Those people might miss the pure joy of making music.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Mark Clark
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 01:58 PM

I think in the U.S. if one admires traditional forms of music and didn't grow up in an environemt where one form or another was played, you wind up wanting to play something from each form. At least I always have. How could one listen to folk and not also want to play country blues? How do you listen to country blues and not want to try electric blues? I have played acoustic guitar, five-string banjo, fiddle, electric guitar and most recently resophonic guitar. The acoustic guitar has always been the main thing but the others are there when I wish to make music appropriate to those instruments.

For this discussion, is the resophonic guitar in the same category as electric ones? They are acoustic but the sound isn't at all wooden. They were devised in order to make the guitarist heard over other instruments or in a loud room. Are they to be eschewed as well?

The odd thing is that the sort of loud electric guitar playing that many of us prefer not to hear wasn't how these instruments were first used. An early electric player was Charlie Christian. Surely his solos fit better with Benny Goodman's quintet and the bebop jams at Minton's than even Django's acoustic brilliance might have. Christian's contemporary and friend Aaron (T-Bone) Walker, also an early electric player, surely treated the music gently. I just can't imagine the music of these giants played on an acoustic instrument.

But, speaking of loud electric guitars, it's hard to beat Jorma Kaukonen and Papa John Creach as Hot Tuna trading licks in front of a fifty-foot wall of amps in Chicago's Auditorium Theater. Talk about a seismic event! “Good though.”

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 08:39 PM

Yikes! I stand corrected... probably no sqeaky wheels on the sabbath either... but the rest of the week was filled with noisy surprises I imagine... and plenty of smoke in the air...

Ah... but the wilderness back then! Back in the days when you really could 'get away from it all'... and even take natural beauty for granted, 'cause there was so much of it all around!

Gosh, I'm getting all dreamy eyed, and a little choked up... guess I'll put on some Vivaldi and snap out of it...ttr


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: NicoleC
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 10:34 PM

ttr -

This'll help snap you out of it. There may have been no noise pollution, but there was also:

Rampant disease including the plague
"Medicine" in Europe mostly consisted of making you worse in vile ways
If you lived to 18, you were one of the lucky ones
If you lived to 40, you were quite old
No sanitation to speak of -- the smell!
No hygiene to speak of -- the smell!
"Nutrition" meant getting enough to eat, and unless you were one of the few rich folks, that was pretty questionable
"War" meant killing and plundering as many civilians as possible in between rare pitched battles
No 5 day/8 hour work week
Potted meat and salted fish

No Bach -- ah, the barbarism!


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Nevada
Date: 22 Oct 03 - 04:07 AM

Never heard of Jim Morrey?


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